HONG KONG (Reuters) -Hong Kong said on Wednesday it had approved a version of the BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for babies and children under five years old, part of broader measures to boost vaccination uptake in the financial hub.
The government said it was discussing with the vaccine manufacturer the timeframe for when it would be available in the Chinese special administrative region. The government has said that each shot contains one-tenth of the adult dosage, reducing the chance of side effects.
The government approved the use of China’s Sinovac shots for children 6 months and older in August. Sinovac and BioNTech are the two vaccines available for Hong Kong residents.
About 7% of infants younger than 2 have had a COVID vaccine, a rate that is far from satisfactory, authorities have said.
About 86% of children aged 3-11 have had at least one vaccine dose, a higher percentage than that of people older than 70.
The government has singled out the city’s elderly and infants as being the most vulnerable to COVID-19 and said there have been several severe COVID cases involving children who required intensive care.
The elderly vaccination rate remains lagging; about 58% of people 80 and older have had three vaccine shots.
Hong Kong has included children 5 and older in the government’s vaccine pass programme, which requires them to have two doses by Nov. 30, the government said.
The pass is needed to access venues from supermarkets and restaurants to sports centres.
(Reporting by Twinnie Siu and Farah Master; editing by Andrew Heavens and Gerry Doyle)
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